An open mind philosophy becomes the catalyst for change.


In 2012 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department for Water amalgamated to establish the Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR). The physical impact of the amalgamation was significant – 900 people were operating out of seven locations across Adelaide; essentially dividing the culture, hindering collaboration, escalating leasing and travel costs and increasing the environmental footprint of the sustainability-driven organisation.

“At the core we understood that we couldn’t build on the strength and skills of our people and network across the organisation unless we had the right space,” says Michelle Griffiths, Director Finance & Business Services, DEWNR.

The decision to co-locate the organisation was driven by both cultural, wellbeing and sustainability drivers; with an ambitious plan to relocate within 12 months to the former Australian Tax Office building on Waymouth Street.

“The relocation enabled us the seize the opportunity to demonstrate leadership as an environmental department,” says Andrew Copus, Manager Performance and Strategy, DEWNR. “A key philosophy for us was to have an open mind about what we could achieve for our culture and at the same time show that an old building can be sustainable.”

The outcome is a 900-people workforce centrally located in an activity-based working 6 Star Green Star rated fitout (Green Building Council of Australia). The organisation’s environmental footprint has been reduced by 40%, with expected cost savings of $30m returned to the state government over the organisations’ 12-year lease. Significantly, last year the project was awarded the ‘People’s Choice’ award at DEWNR’s internal staff awards program, which is a remarkable achievement considering the relocation disrupted every staff member involved in the move.

The DEWNR Relocation to Waymouth Street project is a finalist in the ChangeConnect Awards 2017. The winner of the change management award will be announced on 9 November 2017 at the ChangeConnect Awards & End of Year Party. Tickets available at Eventbrite. #celebratechange


The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources aims to help South Australians conserve, sustain and prosper. To do this they take on the roles of facilitator of community involvement in and taking responsibility for the environment; steward of the state’s natural resources to enable sustainable development; custodian of public parks, gardens, heritage places and crown lands for public benefit and enjoyment, and for their intrinsic value; and authority on the state’s environment and natural resources to help governments, businesses and individuals make good long-term decisions.

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